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Dissociation of brain activation in autism and schizotypal personality disorder during social judgements

Stanfield, Andrew M., Philip, Ruth C. M., Whalley, Heather, Romaniuk, Liana, Hall, Jeremy ORCID:, Johnstone, Eve C. and Lawrie, Stephen M. 2017. Dissociation of brain activation in autism and schizotypal personality disorder during social judgements. Schizophrenia Bulletin 43 (6) , pp. 1220-1228. 10.1093/schbul/sbx083

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Background There are overlaps between autism and schizophrenia but these are particularly pronounced, especially in social domains, for higher functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or schizotypal personality disorder (SPD). It is not known whether these overlapping social deficits result from shared or distinct brain mechanisms. We therefore compared social cognition in ASD and SPD using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Methods Twenty-one individuals with SPD, 28 with ASD and 33 controls were compared with respect to clinical symptoms using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale; social cognition, using a social judgment task and Ekman 60 faces task; and brain activation using an fMRI task of social judgment. Results The ASD and SPD groups showed few differences in symptoms or social cognition. However, fMRI showed that, compared to ASD, the SPD group showed significantly greater activation during social compared to gender judgments in the amygdala and 3 clusters: right posterior cerebellum, extending into fusiform and inferior temporal gyri; left posterior cerebellum; and left intraparietal sulcus extending through medial portions of the temporal gyri into the fusiform gyrus (all P < .05 family-wise error corrected). Control activations lay between the ASD and SPD groups. Conclusions Although social cognitive deficits in ASD and SPD appear superficially similar they are the result of different brain mechanisms. These findings have implications for therapeutic interventions targeted at social dysfunction in these conditions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0586-7614
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 June 2017
Date of Acceptance: 29 May 2017
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 03:22

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